The importance of legacy gifts

Posted on: 22 November 2013 by 50connect editorial

Have you ever wondered what will happen to your pets if something happens to you?

Gifts in Wills save lives

The RSPCA helps animals in England and Wales.

Making provision for the people and causes that are special to you enables you to contribute to and shape the future after you are gone. For instance, a gift in your will to the RSPCA could mean that when an animal needs help in the future we will be here to help them, or even save their life.

Why legacies matter

Leaving a gift in your Will is simple. While many adults in the UK have supported a charity in their lifetime, few are aware that they can continue their support by leaving a gift in their Will to charity.

Gifts left in Wills pay for over half of all RSPCA work. In 2012, this funding helped us to rescue or collect nearly 195,000 animals, provide over 180,000 treatments in hospitals and investigate over 150,000 cruelty complaints. The legacy gifts RSPCA receives ensure that there is help for vulnerable animals every single day.

While many of us have a Will written and stored, if it is not kept up to date, it will not necessarily reflect your current concerns or priorities. Whatever your circumstances you should aim to review your Will at least once every five years, as this will ensure your wishes are carried out. Even if you’re married, you should have a will, as it’s not necessarily the case that your whole estate will be passed on to your spouse or civil partner. Read more about intestacy and what it could mean for your family.

Step 1: Get a professional to write your Will

A solicitor

Consult a solicitor to help you structure your Will. A good place to start your search is the Law Society or speak to your friends and family for a recommendation.

A Will writer

As it stands, Will writers are less regulated than solicitors, but as it is a specialist area, they often have indepth knowledge. To find out more, or to locate a registered Will writer in your area, an organisation like the Institute of Professional Willwriters might be able to help.

Your bank

Many high street banks now provide Will writing services; contact your local branch to find out more.

Step 2: Assets and debts

The credit crunch has taken its toll on many of us, but you don't have to be wealthy to make a difference! Legacies of all sizes play an invaluable role in aiding the work of charities all over the world. Even if your wealth is locked away in property and cannot be released in your lifetime, it’s good to have a clear understanding of your financial situation. Any outstanding debts are taken from your estate before any gifts are distributed, so taking these factors into account will give you the bigger picture on your finances.

Your assets include…

Property, cash savings, bank/building society/savings account, shares, bonds, life policies, pension funds, household contents, jewellery, other possessions.

And debts!

Mortgage, loans, credit cards, any other debts

Step 3: Who will you be leaving your money to?

Make a list of the people who you’d like to benefit from your estate. Once you’ve worked out what goes to whom, you will be more comfortable and better informed to make the right decisions when you consider leaving a gift in your Will as a legacy. By carefully considering your options, you will have peace of mind, knowing that you have catered the needs of your family and can continue your support of your favourite charity. Not only are you supporting a worthy cause, it could also limit your exposure to inheritance tax!

Step 4: Choose an Executor or Trustee

This is an important role, which carries with it responsibility. Anyone over the age of 18 can be nominated as an executor. Most people choose their spouse or civil partner, as these are people they trust the most, but it is common to have more than one executor, including children or trusted relatives or friends. RSPCA has Trust Corporation status and can act as an Executor of your Will.

Step 5: Choose the type of legacy you’d wish to leave

Residuary legacy

This is a gift of the remainder or percentage of your estate after all debts have been cleared and other legacies have been made. This way of giving is an easy way to provide for the causes you love after family and friends have been looked after.

Pecuniary legacy

A fixed sum of money. The value of pecuniary legacies will decrease over time, as the cost of living increases.

Specific legacy

A particular named item left as a gift in your Will is known as a specific legacy, for example, a piece of jewellery.

Contingent gifts

Legacies made on the basis of another event happening first are called contingent gifts. For example your Will could state that a gift only applies if all other beneficiaries named in your Will die before you do.

Life interest or reversionary legacy

This is a gift, which someone can benefit from in his or her lifetime. For instance, your house could be left for the use of a relative. When they die, it could pass to someone else, or to a charity.

Celebrate your life by helping animals

Legacy gifts come from ordinary people, and they are crucial to the future development of RSPCA services. It's so easy to leave a gift in your Will. By remembering RSPCA in your Will you will be investing in life-saving facilities like our hospitals and animal centres. For example:

  • £290,000 could run RSPCA Gonsal Farm Equine Rehabilitation Centre for a year, caring for 40 neglected horses and ponies at any one time.
  • £100,000 could support our Lottery endorsed 'Hastings Wild Things' project educating 2,000 vulnerable children against animal cruelty.
  • £60,000 could keep an RSPCA Inspector on the road for a year, investigating cruelty and rescuing over 300 distressed animals.
  • £25,000 could pay for a new X-ray machine for one of our animal hospitals or clinics helping us deliver 183,000 medical treatments in 2012.

What better way to thank the people or organisations that have had an impact on your life, than to make a contribution through a Gift in your Will?

If you decide to leave us a gift, however large or small, it will mean that in the future, when neglected, injured, or cruelly treated and abandoned animals come to us, we can help them begin a new life. With your gift we can continue to be here for all animals.

You’ll find more information about leaving a Gift in Your Will to RSPCA here.


Supporting RSPCA through charitable gifts and legacies

This month we are supporting charitable gifts through wills and legacies - and you can help too!

If you have 5 minutes to spare, fill in this short survey and you have the chance to win a Gift basket of RSPCA goodies.  Click here to take survey


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